Originally Published: Sep 19, 2009 4:41 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer
NORMAN, Oklahoma – OU quarterback Landry Jones will face his first legitimate opponent as a starter Saturday when the Sooners host in-state foe Tulsa.
Jones had a strong outing in his first start replacing Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. Jones completed 18 of 32 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns. However, that was against FCS opponent Idaho State, and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane’s defense will provide a much tougher challenge.
“They’re going to be a good opponent,” Jones said. “We’ve got to come out there and play a better game than we did against Idaho State. Tulsa is going to be really good.”
Head coach Bob Stoops said he has been pleased with how Jones has handled the spotlight and the way he has progressed.
“Landry, in a short period of time, could not have handled himself better,” Stoops said. “With everybody, with dealing with the pressure of it all, with his chemistry with the team, with everything. Even in the game, with not making mistakes and playing efficiently.”
Tulsa (2-0) head coach Todd Graham said he is not particularly familiar with Jones, but that he is impressed with what he has seen of the young quarterback.
“He’s a guy that is very talented,” Graham said. “He’s a big passer with a quick release, and throws the ball really well and accurately. Naturally, he doesn’t have the experience that Bradford has ? but he’s very, very talented.”
The last time OU played Tulsa was in 2007, when the explosive Sooner offense racked up 553 total yards and scored 62 points. This time around, the Sooners will be hurt by the losses of Sam Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham to injury, and the Tulsa defense is vastly improved.
“I think we’re a lot better program than we were in ’07,” Graham said. “We’re a lot better defensive football team ? we’ve got to play championship defense this week.”
The Tulsa defense held its first two opponents – Tulane and New Mexico – to a total of just 23 points and recorded 10 sacks, which is second in the nation.
While the OU offense is significantly better than Tulane or New Mexico, Coach Graham said he fears the Sooners’ defense much more.
“This week is the best defensive football team I’ve seen, period,” Graham said. “Their defensive line, I would be safe to say, is the best in the country.”
The Tulsa offense is led by quarterback G.J. Kinne, who is a threat with his arm and his legs. One of the Golden Hurricane’s most dangerous weapons is wide receiver Damaris Johnson, who is also a threat as a return man on kicks and punts.
“They use all of their pieces,” Stoops said. “They spread the ball around to everyone. They do a nice job, run and pass, of mixing it up, moving the pocket. They do a little bit of everything so they give you a lot to work on.”
The Sooners and Golden Hurricane will square off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Norman.
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